From the outset Michael’s focus has been on making ultra-premium Pinot Noir, and he quickly learned the importance of spending time with local growers to source the best grapes in the area. In 2005, Panther Creek Cellars was purchased by the Chambers family, and in 2013 the Chambers family sold the Panther Creek brand. Liz Chambers personally retained ownership of the former winery and tasting room to launch Elizabeth Chambers Cellar with Michael as head winemaker. Michael believes in finding the best that every vintage has to offer by working with what nature gives him. He has free rein to make wine for “real Pinot lovers,” which he interprets as wines of finesse and elegance that preserve the flavor and character of the vineyard.
Michael Stevenson, the winemaker for Elizabeth Chambers Cellar, has worked with the top growers in the Willamette Valley for over 20 years. Michael first moved to Oregon from Asheville, North Carolina in 1993. A job working the harvest near McMinnville developed into entry-level production and operations support at Panther Creek Cellars. In 1994, businessman Ron Kaplan purchased Panther Creek Cellars from Ken Wright and Michael started to take on increasing responsibility in the cellar. By 1999, Michael was fully engaged in learning the craft of winemaking guided by consulting winemaker Mark Vlossak before assuming the role of head winemaker in 2000.